Be happy! Make money!

Diane Wilson is founder of Lampara, a Hove-based online boutique selling handmade lampshades
Diane Wilson is founder of Lampara, a Hove-based online boutique selling handmade lampshades

A community learning centre is launching taster sessions to put a smile on your face.

A community learning centre in Brighton is launching a range of new creative taster sessions, day workshops, short courses, and summer schools designed to put a smile on your face - and a pound or two in your pocket.

The new courses are designed not only to improve local residents' sense of wellbeing and synchronise with Brighton and Hove's Happiness Strategy, but also to tap into the growing interest in using creative skills to earn money.

"People who learn a creative skill are increasingly turning them into small businesses, which they can run in the evenings and at weekends," says Jayne Routley, who has been recruited by The Bridge Community Education Centre to design a new range of creative courses for them.

The new workshops, short courses, and summer schools - covering everything from Japanese Raku pottery techniques through to improving your sewing machine skills - start in June.

The initiative will be officially launched at two open days on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31 (10.30am to 4pm), when visitors will be able to buy handcrafted wares and try their hand getting creative.

The Bridge, in Lucraft Road, Brighton, has already launched a series of two-hour "Twilight" taster sessions, as the first part of this initiative, including one on 'How to start your own small creative business', which ran yesterday (Thursday).

The session was run by Diane Wilson, founder of Lampara, based in Hove, a successful online boutique selling handmade designer lampshades, who shared her own experiences and outlined the basics of business building.

She said: "I realised the only difference between myself and successful business-owners was they had taken a leap forward and gone ahead and done it. When I realised this was the only difference - I set to work.

"Taking a small course can literally help turn your ideas into actions. This is how I started to set up my own creative business."

Sofie Franzen, project manager at The Bridge, explained it was already looking at the possibility of running further business sessions and even day-long workshops aimed at people who want to turn a creative skill into a way of earning money. "The aim would be that people can come to us to not only learn creative skills but also the businesses basics that can help turn that skill into an income," she said.

Jayne Ross, chief executive of The Bridge, said: "The great thing about creative courses is that they appeal to a huge range of people.

"Learning a new skill can be really uplifting and we have some fantastic artists working with us on the project. Plus, a growing number of people from all walks of life and all sorts of financial backgrounds are interested in the idea of running a small creative business."

Brighton and Hove City Council and the city’s clinical commissioning group are developing a happiness strategy to improve mental wellbeing and taking a preventative approach by addressing the wider factors that influence how we feel.

City residents report lower wellbeing, life satisfaction and happiness - and higher levels of anxiety - than the national average.

Research undertaken for The Bridge indicates that there is a renewed interest in crafts in the wake of the economic downturn and an increased interest in making and mending. The Crafts Council says craft is the most entrepreneurial of all the creative industries sectors: "88% of all makers set up their own businesses and a further 6% work in business partnerships. Self-employment is almost three times more common amongst makers than across the creative industries as a whole, and is over six times more common than in the overall UK working population."

For more information about the new courses and the open days, visit: www.thebridgebrighton.com